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Inhibition of Nitrification by Climax Ecosystems. III. Inhibitors Other than Tannins
Elroy L. Rice and Sunil K. Pancholy
American Journal of Botany
Vol. 61, No. 10 (Nov. - Dec., 1974), pp. 1095-1103
Published by: Botanical Society of America, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2441927
Page Count: 9
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We obtained considerable evidence in earlier work that inhibition of nitrification begins during old-field succession and increases to a maximum in the climax (Rice and Pancholy, 1972, 1973). Moreover, we found that tannins and tannin derivatives appear to be important inhibitors of nitrification. In the present project, other potential phenolic inhibitors of nitrification were identified in acetone extracts of entire plants of most herbaceous species and leaves of tree species important in an intermediate stage of succession and the climax in three vegetation types in Oklahoma. Attempts were made also to identify potential inhibitors in acetone extracts of soil from the top 15 cm of the oak-pine climax. Seventeen potential inhibitors were identified from the eleven important species of plants surveyed. These were mostly phenolic acids and flavonoids, but one coumarin compound, scopolin, was found in high amounts in several species. The potential inhibitors were most common in green tops or green leaves, but roots, dead tops (of previous year), and dead leaves had high amounts of some compounds. Caffeic and ferulic acids were prominent in dead leaves or dead tops, and one flavonoid, myricetin, occurred in sizeable amounts in dead tops of Sorghastrum nutans. The aglycones of most of the compounds were tested against nitrification in soil suspensions, and all completely inhibited oxidation of NH+ 4 to NO- 2 by Nitrosomonas at concentrations as low as 10-6 to 10-8 M. Oxidation of NO- 2 to NO- 3 by Nitrobacter, however, was affected much less severely by these inhibitors. The greater resistance of Nitrobacter is not significant biologically because inhibition of the first step carried out by Nitrosomonas effectively inhibits the entire process of nitrification. The 3-glucoside of quercetin, isoquercitrin, inhibited the activity of Nitrosomonas completely at the same concentration as quercetin. We found a compound in large quantities in the oak-pine climax soil which appeared in all tests to be a flavonoid aglycone, but we were never able to identify it to our satisfaction. This substance was extremely inhibitory to germination and seedling growth of `Crimson Giant' radish seeds. These have hard seed coats and germinate very rapidly so most inhibitors do not affect their germination at all. It is likely that some, if not all, of the nitrification inhibitors identified may be important in inhibition of nitrification in the later stages of succession and in the climax along with the tannins.
American Journal of Botany © 1974 Botanical Society of America, Inc.